What are they on about?

30th June 2000 at 01:00
David Newnham finds his television viewing takes an unexpected turn

It is becoming increasingly difficult to find out what's on television. I've tried the usual sources - newspapers, Oracle, listings magazines. But if you don't already know what's what, nobody's going to tell you.

Printed schedules frequently give the name of the programme only. At 10 o'clock, there's something called Round The Bend. It's a repeat, it has Teletext subtitles and is suitable for people on a gluten-free diet. But if I didn't already know that it was a sitcom about care in the community, I might assume it was a game show about plumbing.

The announcements broadcast between programmes are useless: "Reg discovers something unexpected in Julia's armpit. That's Make Mine A Double Whopper, after the break."

Is it a soap opera? A fly-in-the-ketchup docudrama about fast food? Who are Reg and Julia? The only way to find out is to "stay tuned", and even that doesn't always do the trick.

But the thing most likely to baffle a Martian scientist as she flips through the channels on her radio telescope is the habit of prefacing programmes with co announcements about the nature of the language contained therein. Never mind a Martian, even I sometimes have to think twice before I realise what they're driving at.

It used to be obvious. If you heard: "The 1920s is the setting for Archie Caldwell's edgy drama about life in a Weston-super-Mare furniture repository, and some viewers may find the language offensive," you knew people would be saying "frigging" in every second sentence. But recently, the coding has become more obscure, so that if you had a trying day at work or happen to be exercising the budgie, you could well miss the point.

"Candid" and "frank" are clues to listen out for, so if the announcer says something like: "In this stark exploration of rural isolation, a pig farmer and his five daughters find themselves engaged in a frank discussion about their sexual appetites," you can expect a fair amount of mucky talk.

But references to "emotions running high" and "feelings coming out into the open" are easily overlooked, and before you know it, you could be hearing the sort of language people use when they can't get their video recorder to work.


Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now